Lampard 42, 91 (pen)
MANCHESTER CITY 4
Tevez 45, 76 (pen), Bellamy 51, 87
An extraordinary lunchtime kick off in light of recent personal events off the pitch displayed an exhilarating game as John Terry and Wayne Bridge came up against each other. After Bridge ignored Terry’s handshake, both teams put on a professional attitude but Chelsea could not have imagined a worse afternoon as they let Manchester City come from behind to become the first team outside of the top four to win at Stamford Bridge in seven years.
The match played out like a typical cautious Italian display of defending, boos rung out around west London to Wayne Bridge. Didier Drogba constantly tried to break through the left side with Micah Richards but the Englishman kept him quiet. The Blues seemed weary after the midweek defeat to Inter but dominated, looking to be first to break the deadlock – Florent Malouda firing a thunderbolt from outside the box only to see his shot rise over the bar. Joe Cole had the next effort, dribbling into the box and slamming a shot straight at Shay Given.
After a mundane opening period, the game suddenly sprung to life when Joe Cole unlocked the City defence by playing a brilliant through-ball to find Frank Lampard who buried the shot to give Chelsea the opener. City’s response was amazingly swift and shocking on Chelsea’s part. A ball over the top found Carlos Tevez who got away from Terry, dribbling into the box and rolling the ball ever so lightly past Henrique Hilario. The reaction from the Chelsea defenders and indeed the fans showed the disappointment to concede such a soft goal. Tevez had opened the floodgates as City were back in the game just before the break.
Hilario’s performance between the posts came into further contention when Craig Bellamy fired a classy finish after running easily past John Obi Mikel to put City into the lead five minutes after the re-start. Daniel Sturridge and Shaun Wright-Phillips both came on to make appearances against their former clubs on the hour mark. Tempers started to flare as Chelsea seemed edgy and tense trying to get back on terms but the goalkeepers were the difference on the afternoon, Hilario’s suspect show contrasting Shay Given’s stoic performance in the nets with Vincenet Kompany and Joleon Lescott giving a defensive lesson as they kept out Drogba and the rest of Chelsea’s threats.
The game went from bad to worse for Chelsea as referee Mike Dean awarded City a penalty and rightly showed Juliano Belletti a red card. Tevez slammed the spot-kick confidently to make it 3-1 to the visitors. The red cards kept coming for Carlo Ancelotti’s men as Michael Ballack was sent off. Despite more Drogba free-kicks and substitutions, the Blues failed to break City’s imperious defence conceding a fourth when former Chelsea man Wright-Phillips squared the ball for Bellamy to net his second. Lampard’s penalty gave Chelsea some consolation but they will wonder how many points they can throw away in the race for the title with poor defending and Hilario in goal.